Roslyn Stevens of Chimacum fills bottles at the self serve bottled water station at the Port Townsend Co-Op. Port Townsend’s water has been deemed safe to drink, but Stevens and many others choose the bottled option since it’s free of the chemicals like chlorine that are used to purify local drinking water. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Roslyn Stevens of Chimacum fills bottles at the self serve bottled water station at the Port Townsend Co-Op. Port Townsend’s water has been deemed safe to drink, but Stevens and many others choose the bottled option since it’s free of the chemicals like chlorine that are used to purify local drinking water. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend drinking water free of toxins despite algae growth, officials say

Recent tests on Port Townsend’s reservoirs have discovered some blue-green algae.

PORT TOWNSEND — Although recent tests on Port Townsend’s reservoirs have discovered they contain blue-green algae, which can create toxins, the water is safe for drinking, city officials said.

City Manager David Timmons said Wednesday that results of tests for toxins, which arrived Sept. 20, showed levels lower than the minimum detection level.

“Basically, they couldn’t find any toxins,” Timmons said.

Lords Lake and City Lake are both untreated reservoirs and both saw high algae cell counts in tests conducted at the end of August.

City Lake contained a count of 8,900 cells per milliliter while Lords Lake had a slightly slower count, according to Port Townsend water resource manager Ian Jablonski.

A count of 2,000 cells per milliliter is enough to require follow up testing for toxins that could get into the drinking water.

“The tests came back at a low level, but the state requires a response plan at levels lower than we saw,” Timmons said.

“We were basically just preparing for the worst case, but what we didn’t want to do is panic the public.”

According to Timmons, the city was preparing an alternative drinking water source of bottled water should the tests show there were toxins in the drinking water and a “do not drink” order would have been put into place.

“There is a 10-day exposure limit and we were well within that,” Timmons said.

Blue-green algae occurs naturally in lakes and sometimes can begin to produce toxins. Anderson Lake, for instance, is often closed to fishing during the season because of high levels of anatoxin-a, a nerve poison. Another toxin that has been seen in Jefferson County lakes is microcystin, which can damage the liver with long-time consumption.

This is the first time the city has had an algae issue that could have affected drinking water, Timmons said.

Some of the toxins associated with blue-green algae blooms can be eliminated with a simple chlorine treatment that is standard to Port Townsend’s water treatment. However, other toxins require special chemicals.

“We were preparing a plan that would last us until we’d be able to add these new procedures,” Timmons said.

Jablonski said there is no easy way to get rid of algae in reservoirs.

He added that algae growth has been fueled by high water temperatures and sunny conditions.

“We’ll continue to test until the count drops down to below minimum levels,” Jablonski said. “It should begin to drop when it cools down.”

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

From left to right are Indigo Gould, Hazel Windstorm, Eli Hill, Stuart Dow, Mateu Yearian and Hugh Wentzel.
Port Townsend Knowledge Bowl team wins consecutive state championships

The Knowledge Bowl team from Port Townsend High School has… Continue reading

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls dirt from around the base of an orca sculpture at the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield on Thursday during site preparation to rebuild the Port Angeles play facility, which was partially destroyed by an arson fire on Dec. 20. A community build for the replacement playground is scheduled for May 15-19 with numerous volunteer slots available. Signups are available at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084DA4AC23A5F85-47934048-dream#/. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Site preparation at Dream Playground

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls… Continue reading

Rayonier Inc. is selling more than 115,000 acres in four units across the West Olympic Peninsula last week as the company looks to sell $1 billion worth of assets. (Courtesy photo / Rayonier Inc.)
Rayonier to sell West End timberland

Plans call for debt restructuring; bids due in June

Port Angeles port approves contract for Maritime Trade Center bid

Utilities installation, paving part of project at 18-acre site

Port Angeles to hire personnel to operate day ambulance

The Port Angeles Fire Department will be able to… Continue reading

Port Angeles City Hall parking lot closed for construction

Work crews from Bruch and Bruch Construction, Inc. will… Continue reading

Teen photo contest open for submissions

The Jefferson County Library is accepting submissions for Teen… Continue reading

Letters of inquiry for grant cycle due May 15

The Olympic View Community Foundation and the Seattle Foundation will… Continue reading

Amy DeQuay of Port Angeles, right, signs up for information at a table staffed by Christopher Allen and Mary Sue French of the Port Angeles Arts Council during a Volunteer Fair on Wednesday at Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. The event, organized by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce, brought together numerous North Olympic Peninsula agencies that offer people a chance to get involved in their communities. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Volunteer fair in Port Angeles

Amy DeQuay of Port Angeles, right, signs up for information at a… Continue reading

Luncheon to raise funds for women with cancer

The Kathleen Sutton Fund will host its third spring… Continue reading

Among those volunteering are rowers from Port Townsend, Port Angeles and Sequim. Pictured from left to right are WendyRae Johnson of Port Angeles; Gail Clark and Lynn Gilles, both of Sequim, Jean Heessels-Petit of Sequim; Christi Jolly, Dennis Miller, Carolyn DeSalvo and Frank DeSalvo, all of Sequim; and Rudy Heessels, Amy Holms and Guy Lawrence, all of Sequim.
Sequim Bay Yacht Club to host opening day ceremonies

The Sequim Bay Yacht Club will host free boat rides… Continue reading

Serve Washington presented service award

Serve Washington presented its Washington State Volunteer Service Award to… Continue reading